My reading has definitely been a lot steadier in recent months, November included. Whilst I’m trying to break away from the vice grip that my library seems to have on me, I can’t seem to make any dent in the books that I have on my shelves at home.
That may be due to the reason that I keep buying books before finishing what I have, and then still loaning books from the library, but hey ho. I could have worse addictions.
November was a rom-com kind of month, but I won’t say that made for a great reading month. I’m hoping for an excellent reading month in December to round out 2023, and hoping to hit 70 books for the year.
It’s nowhere near my 100 books that I read in 2022, but I doubt I’ll be doing that ever again.
Here are the ratings and reviews of the books that I read in November 2023. As always, you can follow my reading in realtime over on Goodreads.
The American Roommate Experiment by Elena Armas
Rosie Graham has a problem. A few, actually. She just quit her well paid job to focus on her secret career as a romance writer. She hasn’t told her family and now has terrible writer’s block. Then, the ceiling of her New York apartment literally crumbles on her. Luckily she has her best friend Lina’s spare key while she’s out of town. But Rosie doesn’t know that Lina has already lent her apartment to her cousin Lucas, who Rosie has been stalking—for lack of a better word—on Instagram for the last few months. Lucas seems intent on coming to her rescue like a Spanish knight in shining armor. Only this one strolls around the place in a towel, has a distracting grin, and an irresistible accent. Oh, and he cooks.
My rating: ★★★
I read this book without realising it was actually the second in a series by Elena Armas. The first being, The Spanish Love Deception which I have had on my list for the longest time and have been dying to read. But when I say the same author in my local library, and one of her newest releases of all things, I jumped on it.
I don’t think it was an issue that I hadn’t read the first book as I believe this books deals with different characters (although related) but I guess you would have more of a backstory if you read the first book. I will say that the romance seemed a little far-fetched for me and unrealistic so I couldn’t get into it too much. I could definitely see this being turned into a cheesy Netflix movie though.
The People on Platform 5 by Clare Pooley
Every day Iona Iverson, a larger-than-life magazine advice columnist, travels the ten stops from Hampton Court to Waterloo Station by train, accompanied by her dog, Lulu. Every day she sees the same people, whom she knows only by nickname: Impossibly-Pretty-Bookworm and Terribly-Lonely-Teenager. Of course, they never speak. Seasoned commuters never do. Then one morning, the man she calls Smart-But-Sexist-Manspreader chokes on a grape right in front of her. He’d have died were it not for the timely intervention of Sanjay, a nurse. This single event starts a chain reaction, and an eclectic group of people with almost nothing in common except their commute discover that a chance encounter can blossom into much more.
My rating: ★★★★★
I had this book recommended to me months ago by my manager as the Platform 5 in the book is actually the train that I get to work in Wimbledon. It was a little surreal reading about the stops and platforms in the book that I pass during my commute to and from work, but it meant I could picture everything so clearly and really envision the characters.
This was some great light-hearted reading with so many eccentric characters that I would very much recommend to you for some escapism. However, I don’t see myself sparking up conversations with the passengers around me on my morning commute anytime soon.
Twisted Love by Ana Huang
Alex Volkov is a devil blessed with the face of an angel and cursed with a past he can’t escape. Driven by a tragedy that has haunted him for most of his life, his ruthless pursuits for success and vengeance leave little room for matters of the heart. But when he’s forced to look after his best friend’s sister, he starts to feel something in his chest. Ava Chen is a free spirit trapped by nightmares of a childhood she can’t remember. But despite her broken past, she’s never stopped seeing the beauty in the world… including the heart beneath the icy exterior of a man she shouldn’t want. Her brother’s best friend. Her neighbour. Her saviour and her downfall. Theirs is a love that was never supposed to happen—but when it does, it unleashes secrets that could destroy them both… and everything they hold dear.
My rating: ★★★
This is a series I’ve seen all over Booktok/Booktube and even though I’m not usually one for a book series, I had to see what all the fuss was about. It took me a while to get into it, but I think this could have been a really good story if it wasn’t so dramatised. The murder/revenge aspect just seemed a little out-there to me, plus the backstories of the main characters. I’m not rushing to pick up the next in the series, but I’ll probably get around to it eventually.
The Housemaid’s Secret by Freida McFadden
It’s hard to find an employer who doesn’t ask too many questions about my past. So I thank my lucky stars that the Garricks miraculously give me a job, cleaning their stunning penthouse with views across the city and preparing fancy meals in their shiny kitchen. I can work here for a while, stay quiet until I get what I want. It’s almost perfect. But I still haven’t met Mrs Garrick, or seen inside the guest bedroom. I’m sure I hear her crying. I notice spots of blood around the neck of her white nightgowns when I’m doing laundry. And one day I can’t help but knock on the door. When it gently swings open, what I see inside changes everything….
My rating: ★★★★★
Now this is a book series I can get behind and that I rushed to buy once I eventually found it in a This Works bookstore (I’ve been buying all of my Booktok books from here as it’s so cheap!).
I read The Housemaid at the end of August and was obsessed. I think I read it in the space of 48 hours as I couldn’t put it down. I will say that this second one wasn’t as good as the first but I think that was because I had left so much time between reading this and the first one and I was getting a little confused by the characters, but it still had all the same dramatic twists and turns that you didn’t see coming which made it a 5-star read again.
The Long Game by Elena Armas
Adalyn Reyes has spent years perfecting her daily routine: wake up at dawn, drive to the Miami Flames FC offices, try her hardest to leave a mark, go home, and repeat. But her routine is disrupted when a video of her in an altercation with the team’s mascot goes viral. Rather than fire her, the team’s owner—who happens to be her father—sends Adalyn to middle-of-nowhere North Carolina, where she’s tasked with turning around the struggling local soccer team, the Green Warriors, as a way to redeem herself. Her plans crumble upon discovering that the players are nine-year-old kids. To make things worse, also in town is Cameron Caldani, goalkeeping prodigy whose presence is somewhat of a mystery.
My rating: ★★★
Two Elena Armas books in one month? This is only because I saw her most recent book in my library and I wanted to give her another chance. Again, this was a cute rom-com but the book confused me from the first few pages and the love story didn’t actually kick into action until 200 pages in. The slow burn was far too slow. I think I’ll give The Spanish Love Deception a go, and then that will be my last read from Elena Armas for a while.
Big Girl by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan
Malaya Clondon hates when her mother drags her to Weight Watchers meetings. A quietly inquisitive eight-year-old struggling to suppress her insatiable longing, she would much rather paint alone in her bedroom, or sneak out with her father for a sampling of Harlem’s forbidden street foods. For Malaya, the pressures of going to a predominantly white Upper East Side prep school are compounded by the high expectations from her sharp-tongued grandmother and her mother. But their relentless prescriptions—fad diets of cottage-cheese and sugar-free Jell-O, high-cardio African dance classes, endless doctors’ appointments—don’t work on Malaya. As Malaya comes of age in a rapidly gentrifying 1990s Harlem, she strains to understand “ladyness” and fit neatly within the suffocating confines of a so-called “femininity” that holds no room for her body. She finds solace in the lyrical riffs of Biggie Smalls and Aaliyah, and in the support of her sensitive father, Percy; still, tensions at home mount as rapidly as Malaya’s weight. Nothing seems to help—until a family tragedy forces her to finally face the source of her hunger on her own terms.
My rating: ★★★★
It’s been a while since I’ve read a contemporary fiction novel, but I picked this up in Shakespeare & Company when I was in Paris in October. Mostly because the book was set in New York, but I also remembered seeing this in quite a few bookshops during my visit to New York at the beginning of 2023.
I enjoyed this a lot, but found it to be quite a slow read and it took me a while to get into it. I liked reading about the history of Harlem and envisioning the 90s of New York with Biggie Smalls on the radio. Although this book definitely had a deeper meaning and had me thinking about weight and how this is something that’s constantly at the forefront of my mind (especially as a woman) and that maybe we should stop being so concerned about what we look like and enjoy life no matter how much we weigh.